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AI is Neutral Technology: What May Be Harmful in Social Media Can Help Healthcare

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Netflix’s new “The Social Dilemmaâ€� documentary has been eye-opening for millions of viewers (see in: hundustantimes, dotcom), sparking conversation — and concern — about how the algorithms used by social media platforms manipulate human behavior.

Here is: “AI is Neutral Technology: What May be Harmful in Social Media Can Help Healthcare — By Dr. Darren Schulte, MD is Chief Executive Officer at Apixio.

By leveraging artificial intelligence that has become shockingly good at analyzing, predicting, and influencing user behavior. The film asserts that the resulting unintended consequences have created real-life dystopian implications: excessive screen time that causes real-world relationships to suffer, addictive behavior, alarming societal divisiveness, and even higher rates of depression, self-harm, and suicide.

These consequences as users look to social media for validation. Big tech corporations profit enormously by harvesting and analyzing their user data and manipulating their behavior to benefit advertisers.

While the film appears to give machine learning algorithms a bad rap, these algorithms aren’t inherently evil. It all depends upon what the algorithms are trained to do.

In fact, the use of AI algorithms in healthcare has tremendous potential to transform health care by improving individual patient outcomes and overall population health, enabling more personalized medicine, reducing waste and costs, and accelerating the discovery of new treatment and preventative measures.

The same type of algorithms showcased in the Social Dilemma can be trained to analyze data generated by patients, care providers, and devices (like wearables). 

The algorithms can even use surveillance of body functions (like lab tests and vital signs) to provide deeper and more accurate insight into individual health, health-related habits, and behaviors over time.

By combining that individual data with anonymous, aggregated population data, we can discover better treatments, refine clinical guidelines, and discover new therapies to improve overall population health.

Let’s consider these 11 ways AI can benefit health care applications.

  • Improve response to emergent diseases like COVID-19. One of the problems we’ve had with effectively treating COVID-19 patients is that there’s been a lot of experimentation and trial-and-error. However, even the data on the results of those therapies has been slow to propagate across the global medical community.

Hospitals and physicians only have data on the patients that they are treating themselves. With no cohesive system for sharing patient data. Providers in America, for example, have not been able to benefit quickly enough from the knowledge and experience of providers in Asia and Europe — where the virus spread first.

By leveraging AI to mine aggregated medical records from millions of individuals, we could see what treatments have been most effective for specific patient cohorts.

Even further, we could analyze the characteristics of those already infected to see which attributes make one more likely to develop the most severe symptoms. By identifying vulnerable populations faster, we can then take targeted steps to prevent infection and implement the most effective treatments.

As we have seen, the analysis and exchange of this data manually, takes far too long, contributing to the propagation and death toll. With AI, we can surface this knowledge much faster and potentially reduce the impact of the next novel disease.

  • Provide better patient surveillance. Identifying how – and how fast – COVID-19 spreads has also been a significant challenge. Scientists traditionally use a metric called R0 (pronounced “R naughtâ€�), a measure of the average number of people infected by one infectious individual.

Using R0 to predict COVID-19’s spread has been problematic for several reasons, including the fact that different groups use different models and data, and asymptomatic individuals can spread the disease without knowing that they are infected.

AI can help resolve this issue to improve patient surveillance by analyzing both medical records of patients who tested positive alongside contact tracing data that indicates the potential for infection. By combining this data and analyzing it at scale, medical authorities can use this insight to determine where to implement aggressive testing programs and more restrictive shelter-in-place measures to slow the spread of disease.

  • Improve the quality of care. Health care providers want to deliver the best quality of care to their patients. But one of the challenges they face is measuring quality and patient outcomes with empirical evidence. With patient data scattered across different sources like electronic health records (EHRs), lab results, imaging studies, it is difficult to aggregate and analyze.

By implementing systems that consolidate this data and allow providers to use AI to mine it for insights, physician practices and hospitals can identify trends among patients and implement quality improvement programs.

For example, if they see that individuals with certain characteristics fail to follow-up on important health concerns, providers can intervene with appointment reminders, transportation resources, provide telehealth options, or other interventions to keep patients engaged in their own care.

On the flip side, insurers are also concerned about care quality and ensuring patients get the best possible outcome at the lowest possible cost.

AI can help insurers track and measure patient outcomes as they move through the care system—from a primary care provider to a specialist to a hospital for surgery and into a rehab facility, for example—and identify providers or treatment protocols that may not be delivering optimal results. Insurers can then work with providers to implement new approaches to improve success rates and overall patient outcomes.

  • Identify and mitigate concerning trends. During a typical patient encounter, doctors only have access to the medical information for the patient in front of them. Consulting their patient history provides a limited view of factors that might indicate declining health. With data scattered across different systems, doctors do not always have all the data they need at hand.

AI can help surface broader indicators that a patient’s health may be declining over time.

By analyzing aggregate data across a large population, AI can show that patients with certain vital signs or trends in their data might be headed toward developing certain conditions, like diabetes or heart disease.

Physicians can use this information as a predictor of potential trouble and begin implementing preventative action. Some solutions can alert physicians to these insights as notifications within the Electronic Health Record (EHR) during the patient encounter. This allows physicians to take swift action to prevent disease progression.

  • Enable personalized medicine. The health care industry has been moving toward personalized medicine for years, aiming to transform the “one-size-fits-allâ€� approach to care into a customized plan for each individual. But this is practically impossible without access to aggregated data and insights that only AI can provide.

Consider the AI social media companies use to create and leverage personas to prompt engagement and drive advertising dollars. If we were to apply the same technique to build health care personas for each person, we could then provide this information to providers (with the patient’s permission).

Providers could then use tools like notifications, nudges, cues, or other communication (just like social media) to elicit positive behavior for better health.

For example, providers could target at-risk patients with prescription reminders, diet recommendations, or other resources relevant to their specific health situation.

  • Reduce diagnostic and treatment errors. Even the best providers can overlook important details and make mistakes, especially with the pressure they are under to squeeze more patients into a typical day.

Just as algorithms can help social platforms surface insights about their audience to woo advertisers, physicians can use algorithms to surface insights to diagnose and treat conditions accurately. For example, AI can highlight confounding conditions or risk factors for patients, allowing doctors to consider the individual’s entire health profile when making decisions.

AI can also aid in surfacing potential drug interactions that could put patients at risk. All of this can substantially lower the risk of errors that cause patients harm, not to mention reduce the risk of malpractice accusations.

The same way algorithms can identify Facebook users who might be interested in a new lawnmower and serve up an appropriate ad; they can help providers identify high-risk patients before they develop costly care needs. By culling through data to identify risk factors, AI allows providers to implement preventative and early intervention strategies.

For example, an algorithm might spot a specific obesity indicator that correlates with the risk for Type II diabetes or identify patients with high blood pressure that are at greater risk of heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.

These insights can be delivered at the point of care, even during a patient encounter. If a patient displays a specific set of symptoms, as the data is entered into the EHR, the physician is alerted to the risk and can review trends in disease progression or confounding conditions to plot the best course of action.

  • Identify optimal treatment pathways through data-based referrals. Traditionally, when a patient needed to see a specialist, for surgery or physical therapy, for example, physicians typically referred to providers with whom they have existing relationships.

Unfortunately for patients, this does not always mean they get the best care for their unique situation. Does the provider have experience working with patients with co-morbidities? Do they specialize in complex surgeries or more typical procedures?

AI allows providers to refer to the best provider for each patient’s unique needs based on hard evidence of success and proven outcomes, rather than simply based on existing ties.

For example, if a patient with diabetes needs a knee replacement, AI can help primary care providers to identify orthopedic specialists and rehabilitation providers with proven, demonstrably better results in handling patients with this co-existing condition.

  • Reduce spending waste. About 30% of healthcare spending is considered “waste,â€� totaling up to $935 billion. Nearly $80 billion alone can be attributed to overtreatment or low-value care.

In other words, providers order more tests, services, and procedures that aren’t necessarily the best option—or even necessary at all—mostly in an effort to protect themselves against being accused of not doing enough and to meet insurer’s requirements (e.g., ordering x-rays before an MRI when an injury is clearly soft tissue related or sending patients for multiple repeat mammograms before conducting an ultrasound to evaluate a suspicious lump).

By mining data using algorithms, providers and insurers can focus on using the tests and procedures that demonstrate high value or necessary for specific instances. For example, is it necessary for patients on certain medications to get blood tests every 90 days? Do wellness visits add value to patients?

By looking at what is most effective across the larger population, AI can help point physicians in the right direction earlier, reducing unnecessary diagnostics and placing the patient on the path to better health more quickly.

AI thereby can reduce wasteful spending by identifying diagnostics that are most effective and economical, potentially saving patients and payers millions every year on ineffective tests and treatments.

  • Accelerate drug and treatment discovery. The current pathway to new drugs, vaccines, and treatments is long and arduous. On average, it takes at least ten years for new drugs to go from discovery to marketplace, with trials alone taking as long as seven years on average. For new vaccines, the average time to market is up to 12 years (which puts hope for a COVID-19 vaccine by year’s end into perspective).

One of the reasons the process is so slow is the lack of advanced data and analytics capabilities in the process.

The use of AI to analyze patient and drug performance data could substantially accelerate the time to market for new drugs and vaccines, which could save lives.

Just as the lack of data analytics meant doctors struggled to devise effective COVID-19 protocols, the inability to rapidly analyze trial data and evaluate new use cases for existing drugs prevents patients from getting the treatment they need.

Algorithms can accelerate this analysis and get much-needed medicines into the hands of patients faster.

All this time can add up to a significant cost and take away from time spent in direct, face-to-face time with patients.

AI can help reduce this burden and lower operational costs by automating manual processes like prior authorizations, reducing retrospective chart reviews by surfacing the right data to the right people earlier. The right data, quickly obtainable, will help physicians make better, faster decisions.

These efficiencies enabled by AI, on the administrative side, ultimately lower the cost of health care services for both patients and payers and frees up more resources to improve direct patient care.

The negative use of social media comes when the data influences human behavior bringing negative consequences.

For the most part, technology is neutral. But in the wrong hands with the wrong motives or objectives, the use of algorithms can raise serious ethical questions.

The same algorithms that cause us to feel more anxious, isolated, or depressed when leveraged by social media can also be used to help us heal, stay healthy, and achieve optimal well-being.

The questions are all about the algorithm’s objective and training, testing, and user feedback data that are used by the algorithm.  The reality is that managing both individual and public health in the 21st century requires access to data and insights.

Without data-driven insights, we are just guessing what will work in healthcare and what doesn’t.

Leveraging algorithms to analyze health care data empowers physicians to devise a truly personalized care plan for each individual. The physician can improve the quality of care overall and lower health care costs by tapping into collective insight and knowledge gleaned from millions of patient records.

Image Credit: karolina grabowska; pexels

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Treating Your Stress with AI Technology

Robots are our stress relief

Anxiety, stress, overthinking, and trauma are commonly used words to describe people suffering from mental health disorders that appear from work overload, depression, negative feedback, and much more. It’s very likely to see people suffering from anxiety faster than coming in contact with positive and uplifting people. Here is how to treat your stress with AI technology.

Will AI technology become a panacea for mental disorders?

The fact is, the world isn’t becoming a safer or stable place. It’s rather becoming stressful and discouraging with the COVID 19 pandemic taking over the world and putting us on lockdown.

Nevertheless, technology hasn’t given up on humankind yet. Researchers and scientists are doing their best to provide aid and stabilize the situation for the greater good.

 

“We are changing the world with technology.� Bill Gates

Changing the world with AI Technology
It’s one small step for man, one giant step for technology.

Artificial intelligent technology is now blasting through the roof with its extraordinary inventions. You have robots that can clean, play with you, and make you a drink with just a simple voice command. It’s remarkable how today’s modern age high-tech gadgets can complete simple human tasks, and even complex ones, to make everyday life easier. Sometimes robots can even do these tasks better than humans.

We have used technology to facilitate our lives and make the world a better place with motor-related tasks. The real question is, how far can Artificial Intelligence go from there? Can it subserve humans in the mental aspect? Can AI technology treat anxiety and depression?

What is Artificial Intelligence Technology?

Artificial Intelligence is the process of having robots or technology adapt and react to human tasks by learning from experiences. It’s using the technology of machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing to have robots doing motor-related tasks, competing in chess, and driving cars without passengers. Which are the type of inventions we see now.

This definition of artificial intelligence can vary from one person to another. Though what’s known for sure is that it’s robots thinking and acting like humans. It all depends on programming technology for problem-solving.

You notice today’s modern development in AI technology and the inventions created using this deep machine learning process, with phone features like the voice activation commands you can give to your phone to make it schedule an appointment, make a call, or set a reminder for you.

You might also be aware of the word translation feature on your phone. A simple scan of a written page (handwritten or typed) will have it fully translated for you by using the camera on your phone.

AI technology is found all around us nowadays.

You can see your phone using AI — it’s all over the internet, other technological objects like cars, and much more. It makes you wonder how all of this works and how it’s possible to make robots interpret human thinking.

How AI works is not the essence of this article. I can tell you that it all relies on the processing of data through advanced algorithms and learning from the patterns or features from the data given. It includes machine learning, deep learning, cognitive computing, and other factors that make the process possible.

After that brief explanation of AI, a question comes to mind. If robots can almost think and do what humans can, is it possible for them to develop emotions as well?

Can AI Technology Feel?

As we have mentioned, AI technology processes data and algorithms to distinguish certain patterns and features. This process allows them to solve problems as well as think and do what humans can do. So, is it possible for AI robots to develop emotions just like humans?

AI Technology Robots are our stress relief
Let robots help you with your stress.

While it’s never scientifically proven that AI technology can acquire or develop human emotions from using deep and machine learning, a group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a neural-network model that can detect signs of depression from a person’s voice or written text. It detects depression in a person’s speech depending on the answers to the series of questions given to him/her.

Although this might seem a massive leap for AI and can help numerous people suffering from depression. It still isn’t accurate enough, for the process relies on the person’s specific answers to specific questions. Therefore, it limits how and on whom this model can be used.

On the other hand, researchers have discussed a neural-network model that might be introduced in the future to mobile apps and more. This model is able to indicate depression from speech patterns and text typing. They are hoping that this modified model can help distinguish depression even in natural conversations.

If this model succeeds, it will facilitate many people suffering from depression that can’t get a clinical diagnosis because of the distance, high cost, or other factors.

AI Technology Treating Depression and Anxiety

It’s clear to us now that there’s no proof or successful implementation of AI technology developing human emotions. Even so, are emotions needed to treat human’s mental health? Is it required to have emotions to treat others’ anxiety?

There are numerous techniques and methods that help people reduce anxiety and depression.

Whether it’s picking up a new hobby, playing some sports, or even traveling to a country to clear the mind can aid your stress and reduce depression levels. The one method that I want to shed some light on is owning a pet. Yes! Taking care of your dog, cat, or any other pet is proven to reduce anxiety and help people suffering from depression.

Studies have shown that snuggling up to your furry friend and showing unconditional love to it will make a pet owner less likely to suffer from depression than other people who don’t own a pet. Also, it’s proof that playing with a cat or dog can stimulate high levels of dopamine, which will ease a person’s mind, relax them, and calm them down.

Different studies prove caring for a pet will reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other health disorders. Besides, pets also help us develop healthy lifestyles like increasing exercise, meeting new people, and more, but that’s a whole different story. So, what do animals have to do with AI treating human anxiety and depression?

Since animals don’t have human emotions, and can sometimes sense depression. But at the same time can help their owners with their anxiety by just playing and snuggling. Can’t a robot do the same?

Vector the Robot

Take Vector the robot, for example. This magnificent AI technology gadget is a small robot. It’s about the size of the palm of your hand. It can take pictures, tell you the time and temperature, and do other tasks by using your voice.

This innovative invention amazes me because it has a curious and attentive personality that makes it almost think and act like a pet. It gets sad when you ignore it, gets angry when it loses a game against you, and it gets excited when it sees you. Now call me crazy, but I think you can call this robot a somewhat animal pet (that is a pet-robot). And think — no allergies!

Even though it’s not proven that Vector, the robot will reduce your depression and anxiety levels. It seems to me that it almost acts like a pet but with a more intellectual background. Meaning, what has been proven that pets can treat human health disorders, can also be treated by AI technology robots like Vector. As well as other AI operating robots in the market.

Conclusion:

To make things clear, this was only my opinion on the topic at hand, for no scientific breakthrough has proven my theory and thoughts on AI treating human anxiety. But I believe that there are many ills — both in society and in mental and physical healthcare that AI will be able to help with, if not cure.

To conclude, Artificial Intelligence technology is truly remarkable and has yet to exceed the limits in the near future. Although my opinion is just a theory, it still seems like at some point in time; AI technology will improve and develop to things we have not yet imagined — aside from the motor-related tasks it provides and iterates on today.

Image Credit: lenin estrada; pexels

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How the Internet of Medical Things is Improving Healthcare for Patients and Professionals

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The medical sphere is undergoing rapid transformation with the introduction of connected technological solutions. Known as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), this system of interoperable devices is improving data-informed actions. It’s also alleviating time-consuming tasks for professionals and offering greater autonomy and customization for patients. Here is how the internet of medical things is improving healthcare for patients and professionals.

Currently, there are more than 500,000 medical technologies available. Yet, the power of connected technologies has swiftly been realized amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Stationary medical devices implanted medical devices, and external wearables are driving forward the ability to collect, analyze, and transmit health data. In fact, predictions state that by 2026, the IoMT market will be worth $142.25 billion.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, and IBM have already invested in IoMT solutions. Other brands are also contributing to innovation at an unprecedented pace. Here’s how the Internet of Medical Things is improving healthcare for patients and professionals:

Advantages for healthcare professionals

Streamlined processes

Estimates state that IoMT will save the healthcare industry $300 billion annually in expenditures through remote patient monitoring and improved medication adherence. Even before COVID-19 struck, 88 percent of care providers invested in remote patient monitoring solutions that allow professionals to meet with patients and review their cases at a distance.

These devices have significantly reduced the burden on healthcare systems by lowering readmissions and giving professionals more time to dedicate to consultations and other pressing tasks.

Surgical Setting and Robotic Devices

In a surgical setting, connected robotic devices have improved precision levels for professionals. A smart drill links with a screen to recommend how and where to drill screws in bones depending on the density and resistance. Surgeons can carry out procedures faster and with greater certainty; the effects are long-lasting because the drill offers directions in real-time.

IoMT additionally simplifies logistics as it tracks medication inventory, ensures compliance in drug storage facilities, and validates access to medical storage. Some hospitals use connected video cameras and wireless ID wristbands or cards to manage the flow of admission to specific areas.

There is greater transparency in how the medication is transported because daily activities are intertwined with technology that automates and records such access. There’s equally a smaller window for error and fewer expensive losses.

Hospital equipment itself can benefit from IoMT capabilities too. X-ray machines and MRI and CT scanners can be integrated with solutions that monitor their performance and create diagnostic reports. On top of that, they can predict when maintenance is due and even upgrade equipment software remotely.

Big Data Analytics

According to researchers at IBM Watson, the average person is likely to generate more than one million gigabytes of health-related data in their lifetime. Electronic health records, omics data, and biomedical data all contribute to this figure. The collective volume of data from patients, therefore, helps medical professionals make more informed decisions about treatment and next steps.

Naturally, vast amounts of data need to be processed in a way that doesn’t create unnecessary tasks for professionals and is compliant with HIPAA rules. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning algorithms organize and present torrents of data. This empowers doctors to detect patterns or anomalies more easily. As a result, they can filter health trends and risks from large groups of patients. They can also make sound predictions about future developments.

For instance, the outbreak of COVID-19 was first reported by BlueDot, a platform that aggregates medical datasets. Using AI algorithms, the company discovered a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases around a market in Wuhan and informed the authorities.

On a smaller but equally significant scale, IoMT promotes big data analytics in clinical trials. Participants can be reminded of specific regimes and progress updates via mobile devices. These then send quantitative and qualitative information to a comprehensive database. Some trails have even gamified the data collection, so reward users submit details or confirm that they have followed protocols.

IoMT solutions standardize processes and ensure that the tests are fairer and the results are more representative. Moreover, data can be captured in real-time and shared between research groups, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations. Findings are then published much faster and treatments have a shorter time to market.

Advantages for Healthcare Patients

Greater autonomy for patients

Going for a check-up can be challenging and uncomfortable for many people who suffer from chronic pain or limited mobility. Rather than accept that they can only access treatment in-person, IoMT lowers the need for human intervention and empowers patients to take control of their health.

For example, biosensors can track patients’ movements in a non-intrusive manner. People with Multiple sclerosis (MS) can attach devices to their ankle, wrist, or hip and track activity like footsteps, sleeping patterns, tremors, and vital signs. Data from these devices can then be transferred to computers to determine the best course of treatment on a case-by-case basis.

Elsewhere, smart prosthetics have integrated with platforms to not only share data but also to exchange control information. For instance, a leg prosthetic could use microprocessors alongside situational awareness sensors to create wholly natural and reactive movement.

The limb can record how the wearer moves, how fast they move, and detect what kind of environment they are in. It then adjusts the leg in real-time according to these criteria. Changes are stored via a connected app, where the user can automate or tailor settings. As a result, users don’t have to visit medical professionals to alter their prosthetics.

First introduced in 2018, smart pills have microscopic sensors that, when ingested send data to devices like tablets or smartphones. The sensors enter patients’ guts and measure core temperature, pH levels, and check that recommended medication dosage is followed. Meanwhile, smart monitors and sensors on bedding, clothing, or skin can keep track of patients’ movements, even involuntary ones.

For example, Apple has developed a Movement Disorder API for people with Parkinson’s disease that monitors tremors and dyskinesia. The API can be integrated with a range of software and can highlight if a patient has negative side effects to treatment.

Optimized user experience

For IoMT to have the biggest possible impact, it has to be accessible for all people. Furthermore, if IoMT is to see sustained growth, users require positive interactions with the tech. As the remote revolution occurs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, connected healthcare devices can be inclusive for every user segment.

Notably, IoMT solutions can help develop positive habits in older generations who aren’t familiar with new technology. For example, smart pillboxes are synced with patients’ phones to remind them when and how much of their medication to take.

The benefit of IoMT is that there is greater agility to optimize the user experience based on user feedback and behavior. For instance, companies can learn about user difficulties and experiment with changes that better cater to patients by collecting data from in-device surveys, chatbots, and heatmaps.

What’s more, IoMT also offers a level of personalization that isn’t always possible during face-to-face doctor visits. Text size can be increased for visually-impaired persons, and flows can be shortened for people with short attention spans. There’s also the possibility to enable voice-recognition and virtual reality (VR) features.

Well-designed user experience (UX) aligns with people’s desire to stay informed about their health from their homes. As users seek digestible information quickly, IoMT can provide regular updates, advice and provide a direct line to medical professionals if needed.

While there are clear advantages of IoMT, there are still some obstacles to be overcome to see wider adoption. High infrastructure costs, potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and a lack of interoperability are yet to be resolved. Nonetheless, audiences will become accustomed to technology as health organizations commit to IoMT models. This will spur cheaper, safer, and regulated IoMT options.

Already, IoMT has proven that it is a necessary and valuable step forward for healthcare. As it continues to scale and improve lives, both patients and professionals will feel the effects – quite literally.

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How These 9 Startups are Thriving in the Covid-19 Economy

startups in covid-19

The year 2020 will forever be known as “devastating to all businesses,” but the year has been especially brutal to industries such as hospitality, travel, retail, and restaurants. However, companies in other sectors, such as health and technology, have taken off. Here is how nine startups are thriving in the Covid-19 economy.

These 9 startup companies found ways to grow their business by making needed adjustments and serving the community during the pandemic.

1. Nurx

Nurx is a disruptor in the telehealth industry. It connects patients with providers virtually for consultations and prescriptions for a variety of health services, including birth control, PrEP, HPV tests and migraine treatment.

The company offers patients consulting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via text. After paying the initial consultation fee, patients can message providers for a full year. Because patients don’t have to schedule in-person doctor visits to get care, Nurx is both a more convenient and safer option during the pandemic.

With telemedicine surging in 2020, and an additional $22.5 million in new financing, the company is positioned for long-term stability and growth. While telehealth is increasing overall, its niche serving women’s intimate health issues gives Nurx a competitive advantage.

The company has the opportunity to continue expanding the services it provides and to grow beyond the 29 states in which it is currently licensed.

2. Databricks

Databricks uses open source coding for data engineering, collaborative data analysis, and machine learning. Its platform offers clients:

  • Options tailored to their individual needs
  • Reduced supply chain operation costs
  • Web content creation based on visitor activity

The company has raised $400 million in new funding and expanded its customer dashboard capabilities by buying Redash. LinkedIn ranks Databricks as the No. 5 U.S. startup company for 2020.

Databricks’ most significant strength is its ability to make complex data analysis easier to conduct. The information gained from these analyses helps its customers save money and offer better service to their customers.

3. Verkada

Verkada provides enterprise building security with both hardware and cloud-based software. Its controls allow users to access its command platform from any browser with an internet connection. Integrated cameras and environmental sensors enable clients to detect changes happening across their locations and take data-driven action.

As the pandemic spread, Verkada adapted its system to highlight when and where crowds were beginning to form. This allows clients to disperse large groups and maintain social distancing. The company also created a heat map of high-traffic areas so clients could mark those for deeper and more frequent cleaning.

Verkada raised $80 million and doubled its workforce this year. The company’s advantage is its ability to see new opportunities and pivot to meet customer needs in new ways.

4. Nuro

Nuro’s goal is to use robotics and artificial intelligence to take over delivery orders.

The company launched the first self-driving delivery car in 2016. It initially partnered with Kroger in Phoenix to deliver groceries to such customers as:

  • Parents with young children
  • The elderly
  • Individuals who don’t drive

During the pandemic, Nuro has also used its driverless fleet to deliver medical supplies to Covid-19 patients in California.

On November 9, 2020, it announced a Series C funding round of $500 million. Nuro’s greatest strength is its bold ambition to bring robotics technology to Americans’ everyday lives, during the pandemic and beyond.

5. Movandi

Movandi is achieving success with innovative technologies that make 5G more widely available. Its 5G repeaters are designed to improve 5G coverage in public spaces and buildings in ways that expand the signal around corners.

Movandi’s achievements have resulted in the following awards this year:

  • AspenCore World Electronics Achievement Awards Startup of the Year 2020
  • CNBC Disruptor 50 for 2020
  • Orange County Business Journal Innovator of the Year 2020

Covid-19 has shown that the need for robust broadband is greater than ever. By finding new ways to overcome earlier technologies’ line-of-sight challenges, Movandi is making a signal contribution (pun intended).

6. FullStory

FullStory is a provider of analytical software that enables its clients to improve their websites. The company employs heat maps and other tracking tools to discover where visitors go on a website. Its software also helps pinpoint where retail sites lose customers in the sales funnel.

FullStory’s software is so effective that one client gained $5.63 million in benefits (increased conversion rates, improved error resolution, etc.) over three years. The result was a 411% return on investment.

LinkedIn ranked FullStory one of the top startups of 2020. The company quadrupled its workforce between 2017-19 and has raised $67 million in funding since its inception.

Allowing its clients to detect pandemic-driven consumer behavior changes helps them respond rapidly and effectively to these shifts. The quality of FullStory’s service to its clients provides a benchmark to copy.

7. Attentive

Attentive is a marketing and advertising company that uses real-time behavioral data to target customers and convert sales. Over 2,000 businesses currently use Attentive’s messaging platform to drive sales.

The company recently raised $230 million in Series D investments and has grown to over 400 full-time employees.

Attentive’s most significant strength is its consistent performance over time and deep client base. The company succeeds because its messaging platform helps its clients reach their own customers so effectively.

8. Modern Health

Modern Health is a digital benefits platform that provides mental health support for its clients’ employees. The company uses virtual visits and text messages to connect employees to certified coaches and licensed therapists.

During the pandemic, the company began offering free mental health resources, including live sessions with its network therapists, to the public at large. Its goal was to help the community as a whole get through this challenging year.

Like other top-performing startups in telehealth, Modern Health’s competitive advantage lies in finding its niche: in this case, mental health. It has raised over $42 million in venture funding and has been named to LinkedIn’s list of top startups for 2020.

9. FIG

FIG was founded as an alternative to traditional agency marketing. Its goal is to be the storytellers of the information age.

Among its honors, FIG has been:

  • Named to the Inc. 5000 in 2019 and 2020
  • Listed on Ad Age’s A-list of standout agencies for 2018, 2019, and 2020
  • Designated one of LinkedIn’s top 50 startups for 2020

The company has achieved a three-year revenue growth of 150%. FIG is an inspired leadership story of how connecting with people on an emotional level can drive success.

In 2020, many startups floundered due to the ultimate “beyond their controlâ€� circumstances — The Global Coronavirus Epidemic.

The startups listed here are thriving despite the pandemic and ensuing recession.

These companies are succeeding by finding niche specialties, excelling through customer and community service, and adjusting their offerings to help the community during trying times.

Image Credit: ketut subiyanto; pexels

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The Important Role AI Plays in the Future of Pharmaceuticals

ai in pharmaceuticals

One of the biggest challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry right now is the high cost of developing a new drug and successfully bringing it to market. The process is long and costly — and goes against all the tenets of contemporary business acumen – which equate speed and cost-minimization to survival. Here are the important roles that AI plays in the future of pharmaceuticals.

The Current State of the Pharmaceutical Business

For big pharma, the stark reality is that the average cost of launching a new drug has increased from $1.2 billion to close to $2 billion — an increase of 67%.  The increase has resulted in an overall profit decline during the past decade. That’s a hard pill to swallow in a marketplace that already faces a mix of government regulations, pricing competition, and changing health insurance guidelines.

On top of it all, assuming a pharmaceutical company is even able to take its latest medication through clinical trials — studies indicate only about 1-in-10 is ultimately approved by the FDA.

AI’s Burgeoning Role in Healthcare

The medical community has already adopted artificial Intelligence enhanced platforms.  It’s where this new, and not yet fully-trusted, technology has been visibly demonstrated being used to ultimately help humanity, and because so, AI’s appearance in the space has been met with welcome arms, more or less.

From aiding doctors in rendering accurate diagnoses more quickly to mitigating malpractice risks of any given procedure, the healthcare industry forms a symbiotic relationship with AI  and benefits from the partnership financially.

Similarly, in a healthcare themed Internet of Things, connected devices have empowered patients to play a much larger role in their own successes. Data that can be shared from internal devices to external devices, like smartwatches and phones, will allow a diabetic to monitor their blood sugar levels more accurately.

AI-enabled robotics is also playing a critical role in the operating room, where patients can now worry less about their surgeon’s innate talents because science is seeing consistently safer, more accurate, and less invasive outcomes on the operating table thanks to surgical robots.

Could AI Be Big Pharma’s Panacea?

With AI playing an increasingly effective role in the medical world, will it similarly reduce the financial challenges drug companies face in bringing a new drug to market while also driving up overall efficiencies?  

It’s beginning to look that way.  Intelligence infusion into processes like drug discovery and development has gone a long way in reducing that financial burden as the pharma industry continues to evolve.  

Here are four areas AI is having an impact on the pharma industry:

AI Can Reduce Time and Costs Associated with New Drug Development

In January 2020, a British biotech company called Exscientia, in partnership with Japanese pharma company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, announced that they had used AI to invent a new molecule to be used in a new drug for the treatment of OCD. Because AI did most of the heavy lifting, the treatment is moving to the clinical trial phase – in a process that took 12-months instead of the typical 5-years.

With the average cost of drug development reaching $2 billion, and the time to bring a new drug to market clocking in at upwards of a decade, pharma welcomes the ways AI can alleviate these burdens.

AI Can Identify New Applications for Existing Drugs

Another way AI is improving the bottom line for pharma is in identifying new applications for their already existing catalog of drugs. With its ability to spot patterns within large datasets that aren’t so apparent to human researchers, AI is useful for associating possible connections between drugs and ailments and identifying new uses for drugs that are already on the market.

In a report released in August 2020 by Globaldata, AI is bolstering a cost-saving measure pharmaceutical business use called drug repurposing. Drug repurposing identifies already approved, existing medicines that can be tweaked or reformulated for an entirely different application.

BenevolentAI, a research group in London, employed an AI-enabled drug discovery platform to identify existing drugs that already disrupt a virus’s entry point pathways to look at ways of inhibiting COVID-19 bonding. They identified Baricitinib, an already approved drug, which they predict will inhibit COVID19 infection of human cells. Because they are using an application currently approved and on the market, repurposing the formula to treat COVID-19 will require fewer steps, testing, and cost.

AI Can Boost Trial Success Rates

When years of research and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in clinical trials don’t necessarily guarantee passage to the marketplace, having a way to predict winners from losers early on would save huge amounts of time and money that are typically poured into development.

AI assists the clinical trial process in three key areas: It makes the process faster, more reliable, and more secure. AI-enabled software is a lot more adept at finding coding errors and tweaking calculations. This frees up researchers to focus on the more critical aspects of the trial, those aspects that specifically need a human’s touch to shepherd the drug through the clinical trial process.

Also, AI can help boost trial success rates by identifying the most promising potential treatments from the outset. Transferring some of the onerous early-stage trial-and-error work that goes into drug development from human researchers to machines means more quickly pinpointing the best treatments to focus on, reducing time wasted on less viable options.

From a customer experience perspective, AI has also improved patient targeting and recruitment for clinical trials. In an interview for the Applied Clinical Trials Online website, John Rigg, senior principal, Predictive Analytics, Real World Solutions at IQVIA, suggests that AI can curate patient data to identify a pool of applicants with the necessary diversity a robust clinical trial requires.

AI Opens the Market for Precision Medicine

Microsoft, one of the innovators in leveraging medical applications for AI, last year launched “AI for Health,� which has, among other breakthroughs, revolutionized the science of precision medicine.

Precision medicine has become a fundamental shift in the pharma and healthcare space.  The transition from a one size fits all model with drugs and therapies to highly personalized treatment has become core to many businesses. 

Genomics, or the study of an individual’s genetic makeup – including how those genes interact with the environment, provides data sets that enable AI engines to spot patterns and make valid predictions. This opens up a gigantic new market for pharmaceutical companies that can now customize a drug based on the genetic profile of the person being medicated. The ability to vary doses and formulations in this manner leads to more effective outcomes, but it can also head off side effects.

Precision Medicine also refers to a group of specialty drugs that are designed to treat rare diseases or target specific populations. In both cases, the drugs are generally difficult and expensive to develop. And because they target smaller demographic groups, the profit potential is by default limited.

In the past, this has dissuaded major pharma companies from developing these specialty drugs, leaving portions of the population at risk. But applying AI, the act of identifying molecules and compounds that will result in effective treatments of these rare diseases can be automated and hastened. Researchers are pointed towards specific areas of focus that reduce the risks associated with launching new trials.

Conclusion

The past decade has been a challenging one in the pharmaceutical field as development costs have grown while the average value of a new drug has declined. But with Artificial intelligence empowered solutions brought to the pharmaceutical space — companies can improve trial success rates, gather pertinent information faster, and reduce the time and cost involved in getting needed medications on the market faster.

Image Credit: bongkarn thanyakij; pexels

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digital health Entrepreneurs Healthcare Medical second opinion second opinion Tech

Medical Second Opinions Can Save You Anxiety and Money

second medical opinion

We may end up undergoing medical procedures which could have been avoided only if we had looked for a medical second opinion.

70% of people trust the opinion of the first doctor they consult.

70% of people ALSO do not get their vehicles serviced on time.

It is most likely that you and I also fall into the above category of people. It’s not in our nature to question the people we have chosen to take an opinion from. People are very protective of the skill of the doctors they frequent.

However, you can believe your doctor, feel good about her opinion — and yet still procur a second opinion.  Not getting a second opinion can lead to tunnel vision. We may end up undergoing medical procedures that could have been avoided only if we had looked sideways and looked elsewhere for a medical second opinion!

Statistical Indicators Benchmarking the Information Society
Source: Statistical Indicators Benchmarking the Information Society

The above graph represents a few statistics on reasons why people search the internet for medical content. Googling your symptoms and expect the vast expanse of the internet to suggest a suitable alternative treatment is something that should be avoided at all costs. Self-diagnosis is one of the major causes of anxiety amongst people suffering from a medical condition.

Such self-diagnosis must be avoided as far as possible. However, that does not mean you should not look for a second medical opinion from a specialist. For conditions that can have a life-changing impact, it is always better to get an alternative diagnosis to ensure you are armed with all the information to make the right decision.

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.�- Plato.

Different doctors can have different treatment suggestions for the same medical condition. This stems from their:

  • Experience level
  • Education
  • Equipment accuracy
  • School of thought regarding medicine
  • Treatment methods

It is important to find a doctor who can understand you and the disease that plagues you. As they say, good doctors do not treat the disease. They treat the patient who has the disease. Sometimes finding such a doctor can require you to go for second opinions and alternative treatment consultations.

There are many conditions for which we should consider seeking medical second opinions.

Your condition need not be a Brainteaser.

Nervous system disorders such as dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, meningitis, migraine, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder can be difficult to diagnose and extremely tricky to treat. Neurological conditions are complex and, if treated incorrectly, can lead to life-altering complications. It always makes sense to take a second opinion from neurology specialists to ensure that you have received the right diagnosis and correct treatment option.

Words therapy can be the best medicine.

Research suggests that 1 in every 5 Indians will suffer from depression sometime in their life. 42% of private-sector professions in India have general anxiety disorder or depression. What I am trying to say is that you are not alone! Mental health issues are prevalent, especially in today’s fast-paced lifestyle.

The World Health Organization (WHO) stresses that mental health is “more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities.� It is about not only avoiding active conditions but also looking after ongoing wellness and happiness.

Mental health issues are many-a-times ignored and can affect daily life, relationships, and physical health. Conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety can all affect mental health and disrupt a person’s routine.  Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices can all shape a person’s mental health. A large proportion of people with a mental health disorder have more than one condition at a time. So, do not let your mental health affect your physical health. Talk to a specialist doctor or a counselor.  Get help.  There is nothing wrong with that!

Matters of the heart

I am not talking about love. While that can cause heartache too, it is of a very different kind. I am talking about cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and related disorders, which are the number one cause of death globally. India is the heart disease capital of the world, with 30% of the total deaths in the country is due to cardiovascular ailments. CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels that include coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other conditions.

Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and harmful alcohol use. People with cardiovascular disease or who are at high cardiovascular risk (due to the presence of one or more risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, or already established disease) need early detection and management using counseling and medicines, as appropriate.

If you feel you suffer from CVDs or are at risk, don’t be satisfied with just one consultation. Ensure you get a medical second opinion online consultation and have all the information at hand to correct your lifestyle and get treated!

Don’t baby those issues.

It is said that holding your baby in your arms is one of the greatest feelings in the world. But for some parents, this joy can become anxious if their babies are born premature, have a low birth weight, or have a specific medical condition that needs treatment in a hospital. This is typically done in neonatal care units. 6%-7% of parents in India face this, and it cannot be obvious to understand the level of care your baby needs.

Talking to a specialist can help you understand the different levels of care neonatal units provide. Neonatal care can help you, and your baby comes out of this situation and go on to lead healthy and happy lives.

In conclusion, I would like to say that today’s connected world gives us a plethora of information and options to choose from when it comes to medical opinions. Use it.

Seeing the constant challenge people across the globe were facing when speaking to a doctor or trying to look for a second opinion from an expert, the idea for iCardin was born. They work with Specialists and Care Managers who will customize and personalize the consultation packages as per your requirements after all your health information is being shared with us.

Get all the information and ensure you make the right decision, which is right for you. Stay healthy, stay safe.

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Cloud cloud computing in businesses cloud computing in covid-19 Entrepreneurs Fintech Healthcare Small Business Tech

Cloud Computing for Businesses: Will Covid-19 Surge Cloud Adoption?

A wise man once said not to let a good crisis go to waste. The Covid-19 has shaken the world upside down, many businesses experienced heavy losses while the others started to rise. The pandemic not only changed the way businesses operate but also the way they managed to survive.

Globally, the education system became online, doctors examined their patients over the Internet, and the corporate professionals worked from their home delivering their productivity; the world, in a way, started connecting virtually more than ever before.

But this global crisis came out to be the cloud having a silver lining for the cloud computing market. The cloud has not only been a boon for the businesses but also for the consumers to cope with the struggles of effective work management, entertainment, collaborations, and much more.

This article will throw a light on the cloud computing adoption by businesses and its future scope in the Covid-19 era.

But, what makes enterprises adopt Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing offers huge benefits to the businesses for expanding their business capabilities such as:

  • Pay-as-you-go
  • Scalability and flexibility
  • Minimize capital investment
  • Higher service quality
  • Secure collaborations
  • Safety, security, and compliance with regulations

These factors help the businesses build the resiliency to navigate during the crises.

How Pandemic drives Cloud Computing adoption?

In the phase of unprecedented disruption, as consumers, we all witnessed how we gave a tough fight against social distancing practices with the accelerated use of Netflix, Zoom, Twitter, and Slack – the Amazon Web services (AWS) public cloud-hosted services.

From the market perspective, many businesses are actively adopting cloud computing services to seamlessly manage their operations remotely by creating virtual workspace, managing workforce, storing crucial healthcare data, handling accounting and taxation, and supporting digitizing the manual processes.

A Flexera study indicated the increased use of cloud computing resources during pandemic among enterprises and small and medium-sized businesses. Out of the 57% of the respondents, 31% shows a slightly higher usage than they planned, and 26% shows a significantly higher usage than planned.

Change from Planned Cloud Usage due to COVID-19

Image source: Flexera

Opportunities in the impact of Covid-19 on the Cloud Computing

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadela, recently said that the impact of Covid-19 was such that just in two months of its 3rd quarter, Microsoft has seen the two years’ worth of digital transformation. With a “big bang approachâ€�, he referred to the quick adoption by deploying the cloud services fast.

According to a study, The expected cloud market size in 2019 is to rise from USD 233 billion to USD 295 billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5% during the predicted time frame.�

Public Cloud Adoption for Enterprises

  • The surge of sales in the eCommerce sector

Taking into consideration the eCommerce space, with the rising number of Covid-19 cases after unlocking in many countries, merchants have observed a huge shift in consumer habits. Shopping from brick-and-mortar stores while maintaining social distancing is causing unprecedented levels of disruption for buyers which has encouraged them to shift their gears to shop online.

As of May 31, 27 percent of the US respondents said that they purchased hygiene products online instead of offline.

The increase in the number of online shoppers during the Covid-19 times has caused a ton of light bulb moments for the retailers globally to migrate their businesses to online platforms. Besides, the existing eCommerce store owners have been nudged to escalate their eCommerce game by adopting advanced technologies to increase their sales in 2020, for better customer satisfaction and timely product deliveries.

Adopting cloud computing helps merchants easily upscale or downscale their business. It not only helps merchants to reduce the costs of goods and services but also enables new companies to grow. At the consumer end, the cloud provides ease of shopping experience, anytime and anywhere delivery, cashless digital payments, and much more.

The pace with which eCommerce sales is booming during the Covid-19 times, it is sure that they will outperform post-Covid and, thus, lead to an increase in cloud market growth.

  • Cloud adoption among enterprises

Many enterprises (organizations with a number of employees more than 1000) are choosing the lane of cloud computing technology due to its multiple advantages.

In a survey of 750 respondents who were asked to share their insights into what drove them to move their organization to the cloud-based platforms, 73% of the respondents said cost-effectiveness is the main reason for their adoption. And, 61% of the respondents said migrating more workloads to the cloud was the main reason for their cloud adoption.

Public cloud is the most popular cloud option used by enterprises with a usage share greater than 61%. Talking about the public cloud providers for the enterprises, the order of dominance is Amazon, Microsoft, and Google over the rivals Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud. Amazon Web Services hold the first place with an adoption rate of 76% followed by Microsoft Azure with an adoption rate of 69%, and Google Cloud is the third place holder with 34%.

The statistics below depicts the order of public cloud service providers adopted by enterprises till now in 2020.

Public Cloud Adoption for Enterprises

Image source: Flexera

The cloud adoption rate by enterprises in 2020 is expected to grow more as compared to the last year. Based on the existing trends, 59 percent of enterprises expect cloud technology usage to exceed prior plans due to Covid-19.

  • The rise in the video-streaming services

An estimate shows that this year in the U.S., the average time consumed with subscription OTT video content will exceed 62 minutes per day which is 23.0% up from 2019. With Netflix gaining the first position, the average time spent will exceed 30 minutes per day in the US in 2020, which is up more than 16% from 2019.

With most of the people staying at home, the exponential escalation in the video-streaming services has resulted in expanding the cloud market.

  • Transition to Work from home culture

Many IT and ITES companies are planning to opt the long-term work from home options. For instance, Twitter has announced a permanent work from home opportunity for its employees.

Based on the current scenario, the need for seamless collaborations over the Internet calls for strong cloud infrastructure has risen. The increase in the usage of SaaS solutions to support the remote workforce contributes to market growth as well.

Not only the IT companies, but the finance industry has also accelerated taking the route of SaaS-based cloud accounting solutions.

  • Inclination of Small business towards cloud

Many small businesses have shown interest in cloud adoption. Their major workload runs in public clouds (43%) as compared to the private cloud (35%) with AWS as the preferred public cloud.

In Covid-19 times, the cost-effectiveness and the data security that cloud provides without hiring the trained staff, it is becoming the need of the hour for many small business entrepreneurs.

  • Preferred choice of the Government sector

According to Gartner, 50% of US organizations are actively using the cloud. Both the private and the public cloud are being adopted by the government bodies with the public cloud services growing in double-digits.

And, through 2021, the spending forecast will grow on an average of 17.1%. The government bodies find effective cost savings and delivery services are the key drivers of cloud adoption in government.

  • Rise of cloud adoption in the Fintech industry

Like many businesses experiencing economic slowdown, the fintech industry has experienced the fiscal shocks and stock market slumps during the global crises.

Where everything came to a halt for some time, the finance industry changed the game at global level. They accelerated cloud adoption by providing the customers with branch-less banking, increased digital payment apps, and contactless payments via mobile phones to reduce social contact.

  • A changing trend in Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping has evolved with the changing technology trends. The traditional software is being taken over by cloud technology. With the pandemic, where work from home is the new fashion of working, many bookkeepers are now using cloud-based accounting software.

While many businesses were upended, shifting to cloud-based software has been quite a relief for the bookkeepers to save their employment and their employer’s business. Many bookkeeping apps are available which helps businesses eave an impact on their clients. The need to continue business operations has pushed entrepreneurs to opt for cloud technology.

Regardless of which time zone they are in, the cloud culture has enabled the accountants, managers, and bookkeepers to monitor their business’s financial health, providing ease of work collaboration and anytime or anywhere data access with enhanced security.

  • Cloud Adoption in Tax industry

Many companies are opting for cloud-based tax compliance solutions amidst Covid-19 situations. Both small businesses and big enterprises are considering choosing the digital approach for they provide the benefits of risk mitigation and flexibility.

Since, the Covid-19 occurred in the season of tax filing and returns in many countries, the tax professionals around the globe are pushed to pick cloud-based solutions for providing effective tax solutions to their clients. This approach not only enables the tax filing process faster but also allows the tax professionals to meet client’s needs in a cost-effective and the most reliable way.

The professionals are getting inclined to making a switch towards cloud-based tax software that post Covid-19 this trend will keep growing.

  • Paradigm shift of the Education Industry

As per a study, it is expected that the growth in cloud computing in the education market will be observed from USD 8.13 billion in 2016 to USD 25.36 billion in 2021. And, the compound annual growth rate expected is 25.6%.

But with the pandemic, the speed of adoption seems to increase from the expected rate. With unexpected lockdowns, the educational organizations experienced a complete shutdown, including schools, colleges, and universities, in many world sections.

The education however didn’t come to a halt, kudos to the man-made cloud technology. Though major universities are already running on cloud models for offering innovative eLearning experience, the pandemic forced many school-going students to go for their academics via online platforms which led to the expansion of the cloud market. Many higher education providing organizations are investing in cloud computing services to fulfill their need of a centralized system for academic process management.

Cloud computing has proved to be a boon for the educational institutions to bring everyone onto a virtually connected campus, transforming the learning process. Supporting the concept of ‘learning beyond classrooms,’ cloud computing vendors are sure to continue growing post-Covid-19.

  • Effective tool in Healthcare industry

The Healthcare industry has faced maximum challenges in 2020. With the number of Coronavirus patients increasing day by day, the generated data has increased more than before. Likewise, gathering the patient data, managing it, and storing it securely comes up as a big challenge for healthcare professionals. But, cloud computing has proved as the savior for the healthcare industry.

Cloud computing has provided immense benefits that have helped health care professionals continue providing their services remotely in a safe manner, even in pandemic times. The seamless collaboration of the cloud helps health professionals easily share the patient data with other healthcare providers, enabling them to provide them better services.

Besides, the adoption of technology by the healthcare industry, the increase of digitization, and the rising GDP helps in the modernization of healthcare services have added to the cause of the market growth.

Currently, North America tops the list of healthcare cloud market due to the presence of a huge patient population and major medical and technical companies. With more organizations opting for cloud culture globally during the Covid-19 crises, the healthcare cloud market is sure to boom at a great pace. And, Cloud computing, along with AI and machine learning is bringing the smart hospitals into existence.

In a nutshell, Covid-19 has been a catalyst to increase the space of cloud adoption opportunities in each industry bringing in the Digital Transformation by storm.

Main Challenges in Cloud Adoption

Like any technology adoption, the cloud computing implementation comes up with a prominent set of risks and challenges which include:

  • Cloud Cost Management – Adopting cloud computing culture for business is undoubtedly the best move but meeting the business’s tailored needs can be expensive.
  • Lack of expertise –Another hindrance to employee skill gaps comes while adapting to the cloud.
  • Cloud Migration – Migrating the applications on the cloud can be difficult. According to a survey conducted by Velostrata over 95% of companies are making migration to the cloud, and more than half of them find it more difficult than the expectation.
  • Cloud Security – Storing sensitive business information can be the biggest challenge. That is why it is necessary to check compliance and security laws while hiring.

It is quintessential to have a trusted cloud hosting provider who can help you provide quick, reliable, and cost-effective solutions for successful cloud operations.

Final Thoughts on Cloud Computing Adoption

Now, if you ask, should you go for a cloud computing approach? The answer is ‘Yes’ as it has been successful in providing benefits of flexibility (37%), Disaster recovery (38%), and relieving IT staff’s job (36%).

With a huge number of businesses, including small businesses, enterprises, fintech industry, entertainment industry, education industry, etc. transitioning to the cloud computing models to provide enhanced and unified user experience, the global adoption rate is undoubtedly increasing compared to previous years.

In 2019, the US gained the top position by spending $124.6 billion preceded by China investing $10.5 billion, the UK spending $10 billion, Germany spending $9.5 billion and Japan spending $7.4 billion.

In 2020, the global crisis has further added fuel to the cloud adoption fire, making the investors spend more in the market. For example, China-based Alibaba Cloud, Hangzhou, which is the top cloud provider in Asia, has declared $28 billion of investment in its cloud infrastructure over the next 3 years.

Converting the crisis into opportunities, adopting cloud computing strategies to cope up with the challenges, this Covid-19 has definitely created a surge in cloud adoption globally.

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#IoTinhealthcare AI Healthcare IoT IoT in healthcare; alzheimer's; parkinson's; healthcare devices

How AI and IoT in Healthcare Can Help Dementia Patients

alzheimer's parkinson's

The human body grows old — dammit! As we age our bodies becomes a host to several diseases and inabilities. It’s like the reverse cycle of a young-one growing up that executes in the opposite direction. Here’s how AI and IoT in healthcare can help dementia patients.

With age, senior people tend to lose their ability to walk correctly, hear well, speak sharply, and they get blurred vision.

Dementia is the dysfunction of several mental conditions like memory loss, decision making, or thinking potential. In this post, I’m going to present how AI and IoT technology in healthcare can help support the conditions of such older adults.

older adults

Alzheimer’s Disease

Older people, when get affected by Alzheimer’s, tend to lose their memory and other cognitive abilities of daily lives. Alzheimer’s is NOT just dementia. Alzheimer’s is dementia on steriods!

Patients’ conditions get worse with time — eventually, the individual will even be unable to respond to their surroundings. Quite well known is that as alzheimer’s patients’ progress, their vulnerability to memory loss, makes it critical that their caretakers should not leave them alone.

No remedy for this disease is found yet — but the healthcare domain is striving to delay the disease’s onset.

Parkinson’s Disease

When the person is affected by Parkinson’s, it creates disorders in the nervous system, and gradually they are unable to move. Initially, minor symptoms like slight tremors in hand or so, but slowly, the patients get stiffness and are unable to move.

There has been no cure to Parkinson’s, and medications just help with some symptoms in the early stages. Doctors sometimes do suggest surgeries for such patients to manage and control some aspects of their brain.

Facts and Statistics

According to the Alzheimer’s Association Facts and Figures 2020, nearly 5.8 million people in the USA, age 65 and above, are currently living with Alzheimer’s dementia. And it is projected that by 2050 the figure may go up to 13.8 million.

The Parkinson’s Foundation estimates that by 2020, there will be around 1 million people living with Parkinson’s disease in America. On average, the medication cost of a Parkinson patient goes up to $2500 per year, and treating it with surgery can cost around $100000 per patient.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)

IoMT is the Internet of Things technology in the Medical and Healthcare domain. When IoT technology meets the healthcare industry, humanity witnesses powerful solutions. Mobile devices and sensors are proving themselves to be vital in helping the lives of patients, doctors, and healthcare professionals.

Internet of Things is a technology through which one can transfer data from one machine to another without mere physical contact. It is a wireless technology that distinct computers, sensors, and machines can communicate with each other.

IoT sensors enable doctors and nurses to access the health records and vitals of patients that are distantly located in their homes. These IoT sensors are connected with the Internet, and any major update will get instantly reported to the healthcare professionals. Both ways, IoT and Healthcare Technologies Converge for Better Patient Care.

How does IoT help Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients?

One of the early signs of an elderly getting Alzheimer’s disease is that they start wandering. The gradual memory loss they face makes them vulnerable to getting lost. This threat lays a big responsibility on their caregivers or family members. Patients are not safe in their environment, and hence eventually, it becomes inevitable for at least one caregiver to be with them all the time.

In the case when a person comes under the influence of Parkinson’s, they start losing control over their nervous system. Most of the time, such patients are prone to falling while moving or while standing up. Their minds intend to move ahead, but their organs fail to execute the brain’s command. So even in this case, caregivers or family members are supposed to keep close to the patient and help them with routine activities.

IoT technology applied to devices like RFID chips, GPS trackers, and motion sensors used by these patients can help them become independent.

The IoT technology attached to day-to-day things like wristbands, socks, jackets, buttons, glasses, shoe soles, etc. can be tremendously useful.

With such an arrangement when the patient moves away from their home or routine, their IoT sensors notify their caretakers or nurses. In this manner, you can watch the whereabouts of your loved ones when they are having problems with memory.

Parkinson’s Disease and the Freezing of Gait (FOG)

In Parkinson’s disease, one of the prime issues that people face is the freezing of gait. It is the disability to move your body parts when your mind is ready to take a particular action.

In such an instance, the patient falls due to the miscommunication of the brain and their nervous system.

Now, IoT devices can keep track of a patient’s everyday routine movements and other body patterns and motions. The system observes if there is any unusual or abrupt pattern in the patient’s routine and will notify the doctor/caretaker about the possible threat of the FOG attack.

AI Combined with IoT for Dementia Patients

IoT for Dementia Patients

Most of the costs incurred for treating dementia comes under the caregiver’s costs.

All costs, whether it is regular nurse care or family member care-taking. While looking after a Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s patient, the time-spent leaves a family member to do nothing else.

IoT devices used for Dementia patients, Alzheimer’s patients, and Parkinson patients.

In comparison, the regular cognitive care provided by nurses is not affordable by many. When you pair modern AI technology with IoT devices for dementia patients, artificial intelligence can overlay the impression of the human brain of a caretaker.

You will be amazed to learn how artificial intelligence impacts healthcare.

The IoT devices used for dementia patients collect a considerable amount of data every moment. When you imply machine learning algorithms on such patient data, AI a caretaker’s applications can be trained to assist those patients in taking further actions accordingly.

For example, ML/DL programs can help Alzheimer’s patients improve while performing routine activities like cooking, dressing, socializing, leisure activities like reading, gaming, and a lot more.

AI technology can fulfill the vital role of keeping the patient’s engaged because most of the time, these patients suffer from depression and loneliness. Moreover, in the case of Parkinson’s disease, as the ML program denotes a consistently degrading behavior in terms of tremors and FOG incidents, it sends notifications to the doctor and family members to take specific actions.

Additionally, the data collected by AI technology via these IoT devices is a prime asset for the healthcare industry. Acute analysis laid upon such critical and massive amounts of data can turn up a high chance of finding prevention, delay, or cure for combating cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The benefits of AI in healthcare are countless.

Machine Learning Modes

Recently, IBM and The Michael J. Fox Foundation have started working on a Machine Learning Model that can help clinicians understand Parkinson’s disease better.

One of BRAIN’s research findings, a neurology journal, and Deep Learning Program can interpret MRI tests, age, gender, patient history, and neuropsychological testing to predict the likely chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

After all, AI and IoT are meant to be together. There is a lot that AI has to offer to IoT technology. AI has the potential to learn from the human mind and also to learn from the data over time.

IoT being a younger technology, still has some underperformance. Smart IoT devices that are used for dementia patients have crucial information about patient health and vitals. AI is the best fit to leverage the use of such high-end data. AI in healthcare industry- is the next frontier.

Use Case: Internet of Elderly Things

Here, I want to depict a use-case researched by the IEEE Computer Society, where they have used the IoT technology with smart devices and imaging sensors to help the older people who have Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases live better lives.

The system collects data from various smart devices linked to the patients from their surroundings, understands the patient’s behavior from analysis of that data, and gives relevant recommendations for the patient’s better lives.

Different Health Monitors and Sensors Linked With the Patients:

  • A multi-sensory band that detects health and motion data
  • Sensors placed on the patient’s room knobs, drawers, and doors
  • Cameras to detect patient activity, movement, and status
  • Wireless Sensor Network (WSN) and Beacons (Bluetooth technology) to detect radio signals from various sensors

The system was set up in a three-layer architecture, as shown below:

three-layer architectureThese IoT devices track any troublesome activity from patient behaviors like:

  • Abnormal motion during day and night
  • Confused behavior or Disorientation
  • Feeling-low- patient spending more time on bed and couch
  • Frequency of visiting the bathroom

The above-explained system is a highly accurate and versatile system that can analyze the patterns, behaviors, and movements of dementia patients and help notify their caregivers before the emergency.

Current Times

Currently, as the world is struck under the spell of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology-centric healthcare is here to stay.

AI and IoT technology have an abundant scope in the field of healthcare. AI apps in healthcare can improve the condition of world health, especially for dementia patients like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

IoT in the medical and healthcare domains has proved to be exceptionally well for creating out-of-the-box healthcare solutions.

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ai in denistry artificial intelligence Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare dentistry dentistry and AI Healthcare Understanding Artificial Intelligence

The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Dentistry

ai in dentistry

In the past two decades, the world has made tremendous advances in technology and has affected many aspects of human life. Dental health has also benefited from technological advances. The intelligent toothbrush, virtual reality, laser technology, and 3D printing have fundamentally changed the dentistry landscape.

The next big topic in dentistry will be the use of artificial intelligence in diagnostics and treatment.

How is AI Currently Being Used in Dentistry?

In dentistry, AI is used for a wide variety of applications. For example, it is used in voice commands such as DEXvoice.

DEXvoice, created by Simplifeye and DEXIS is the “Alexa” for the dentist. DEXvoice is able to pull up things like x-rays, patient records and charts. The DEXvoice solution creates a “hands-freeâ€� approach and can ultimately speed up the work of a dentist, as the technician or assistant does not have to constantly try to find documents, x-rays and diagrams on the computer. It also makes the work area cleaner and safer as there is no need to put on and take off gloves to use the computer.

Anyone who has been treated for tooth decay by the dentist knows how painful the process can be. Isn’t it great if artificial intelligence can help make the treatment fast and less painful?

Interpreting X-rays

Interpreting X-rays and properly planning treatment are some of the most important skills a dentist must master. Still, they remain some of the most difficult skills to develop, especially because much of the images are not clearly visible with the naked eye. At the moment, AI is helping with caries detection.

ParallelDots, an AI company, launched a cloud-based AI application to detect cavities on dental x-rays. They named this new clinical device Dentistry.AI. The device contains thousands of X-ray images that serve as a data set.

The AI ​​algorithm is trained to recognize patterns from this large amount of data. Another Industry 4.0 technology, blockchain, guarantees this data’s immediacy and validity to all the system participants.

AI enables better identification of tooth decay by analyzing bone density.

The correct interpretation of X-ray and 3D images requires a lot of experience, and the AI ​​assistant makes work a lot easier, as millions of images have already been evaluated. The artificial intelligence algorithm, trained with thousands of X-ray images, achieves a high degree of accuracy in predicting tooth decay.

The AI ​​has also brought us a smart assistant – the ChairFill program developed by MMG Fusion – that can help optimize dental practices schedule by contacting patients to coordinate treatments that have not yet been completed.

On the one hand, it is about finding out which types of patients dentists need at what times to fill the calendars as best as possible, on the other hand, it is about contacting and coordinating these patients.

The program works like an intelligent assistant. It can also be connected to the marketing system to start new patient marketing campaigns. Profit maximization strategies and algorithms are examined to determine which campaign is running and who it is aimed at.

Is Artificial Intelligence Already an Ally for Dental Health Care?

While these advances in dental care provide an outlook on what may be possible in the future in this area, some experts in the field such as Dr. Sunali S. Khanna and Prita A. Dhaimade, members of the National Academy of Medical Sciences in India, noted that advances still have many drawbacks and challenges to be overcome. For example, the high initial investment costs.

AI Recognizes Tooth Decay Better than Humans

Jaroslav Bláha reported that a group of dentists found only about 50 percent of caries cases in X-rays than AI. He was also able to show that AI is better able than humans to detect orthodontic landmarks on X-rays.

In some cases, AI systems already outperform humans. And even if the quality of AI were only as good as humans, its speed is already significantly higher today. By saving time and the associated cost reduction alone, AI systems will play an increasingly important role in dentistry in the future.

AI-Assisted Dentists

In addition to acquiring factual knowledge about diseases, a strong focus should be placed on the use of AI systems to support decision-making in dentistry. The aim should be to train the next generation of dentists to learn the basics of how decision support systems work in order to be able to understand their decisions and, if medically indicated, to counter them.

Looking Into the Future

The use of AI in dentistry has the potential to introduce solutions with personalized diagnostics more quickly. It will improve communication between doctors and patients and allow for an accurate analysis of patient tests.

The AI ​​platform offers much more suitable alternatives for diagnosing patients. While the existing orthodontic CAD is performed manually by an operator according to the orthodontist’s instructions and may involve human error, the AI-based analysis will have an accurate setup with a precise diagnosis and prognosis before and after orthodontic treatment.

Personally, I hope that with the advent of artificial intelligence in dental health, visits to the dentist will in some ways, become more pain-free and stress-free.

I myself am the son of a dentist and already have experience with painful orthodontic treatment that lasted a total of 3 years. I know that dental visits that go wrong can have lasting psychological effects for many patients, children, and adults alike.

But it’s also exciting to think about the positive results that artificial intelligence and dentistry may have for dental health care in the future.

Conclusion

While AI systems are becoming more and more involved in people’s everyday lives and represent a meaningful and homogeneous addition to life, some challenges are associated with them.

People are afraid of change – including artificial intelligence. In this context, it is, therefore, essential that users always know why a particular decision was made. Understanding the reasons for decisions ensures not only transparency but also increases acceptance.

Another challenge of the future concerns the “distortion” of the data. The artificial intelligence-based on machine learning – can arrive at neutral findings, the output data must also be free of any kind of distortion.

In ethical and legal issues, in particular, we still have a long way to go before we can count on the use of strong artificial intelligence. According to Kreutzer, global agreements are necessary for this – but in view of the geopolitical situation, this seems to be a utopia.

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@HomeVR modality AR/VR AR/VR surgery training FundamentalVR Healthcare healthcare education medical school AR/VR orthopedic training Richard Vincent SaaS healthcare Software surgeon training Tech

Improving Surgical Performance and Physician Proficiency With AR/VR Simulations

AR/VR surgery proficiency

Here is ReadWrite Q&A with FundamentalVR. 

*Many thanks to Richard Vincent, CEO, and co-founder of FundamentalVR, for his time, responses and answers in this interview.

 

Can you give an overview of the Fundamental Surgery platform and the problem it solves?

Multiple studies have shown surgical simulations can improve physicians’ cognitive, psychomotor, and technical performance. However, less than 0.5% of the world’s surgeons currently have access to surgical simulations; not surprising when they can exceed $100K to purchase and cost over $25K a year for medical institutions to maintain.

What is Fundamental Surgery?

Fundamental Surgery is the world’s first SaaS-based education platform using HapticVRTM technology that combines high fidelity virtual reality with the sense-of-touch. The platform allows surgeons to experience the same sights, sounds, and feelings they would result in an actual procedure in a controlled, safe, and measurable way.

Fundamental Surgery was created to democratize access to immersive education, putting this tech within arms reach of every surgeon in the world through off-the-shelf equipment that can be bought and operated anywhere.

The SaaS-based platform offers a flight simulator type experience for trainees and qualified surgeons at a fraction of the costs of traditional education tools and for less than the price of a single cadaver.

Fundamental Surgery is a multimodal solution and is also available on standalone VR headsets, such as Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Focus, through its @HomeVR modality.

Both @HomeVR and HapticVR modalities provide educational simulations accredited by professional surgical bodies in the US and UK (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons in London), and this multimodal approach is specifically designed to be for the different stages of the learning process.

What about traditional surgeon training?

The training of surgeons hasn’t changed much over the past 150 years with classroom-based theory, operating room observation, and theater-style viewing of cadaver-based still primary ways students are taught.

While these methods certainly have their benefits and place in curriculums, they don’t allow trainees to continuously practice their skills and develop muscle memory. These methods also don’t offer instructors with in-depth insights into how their students are progressing.

Our platform allows students and surgeons to practice procedures an unlimited amount of times, and develop muscle memory due to our haptic technology. Additionally, we can offer an unparalleled amount of data on how users are performing and progressing in an objective way.

How does the platform differ from other VR simulations solutions?

While VR has been used in hospitals to help trainees acquire technical knowledge, Fundamental Surgery takes it to a different level using HapticVR that mimics the physical cues of surgical actions, medical tools and tissue variations.

Practicing in this way goes beyond knowledge acquisition of talent and competence, and allows students also to develop the muscle memory that develops the skills necessary for surgical proficiency.

We are able to mimic real-life sensations of numerous medical tools and tissue variants within a submillimeter accuracy of resistance. That allows surgeons and medical students to develop muscle memory and get real-time feedback on what they are doing.

How and when is this platform used?

Between our HapticVR modality and our @HomeVR offering that allows users to practice from anywhere with a standalone VR headset, we offer users multiple options to practice their skills. A single user login ensures a seamless experience with the same high-fidelity graphics, content, and data tracking capabilities across each modality.

We recently rolled out a multiuser feature that allows users to practice and learn alongside their peers and instructors. Our multiuser capability has really become critical during COVID as instructors and professionals have been working to find ways to meet with their students and peers from multiple locations.

Our platform is also hardware agnostic, which makes it more accessible and affordable to medical institutions.

Can your solution and procedures be scaled?

Ultimately, we’ve created a solution that can be scaled rapidly to help many groups within the medical community train, meet, and learn anywhere in the world and at any time.

Additionally, our simulations are created, validated, and refined by experts in their respective fields. We have partnerships with the likes of Mayo Clinic and UCLA, along with our Global Medical Panel to make sure our solution is as realistic and helpful to the medical community as possible.

One last point is that our orthopedic simulations are accredited by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Royal College of Surgeons in London. This means that by using our platform, surgeons can earn credits to use towards their maintenance of certification.

Why is haptics important for surgical training?  What studies or evidence are there to show their usefulness?

Haptics technology is important because it helps surgeons develop muscle memory that is critical for performing surgery. Using haptics allows the user to have a fully immersive training experience where they can experience the same sounds, important visuals they would during a real procedure.

Tell me about your validation studies.

We’ve conducted validation studies with the British Orthopaedic Training Association and The Royal London Hospital with surgeons at various levels of training and found that overwhelmingly participants found the simulation and its haptics technology useful.

Our simulations have also been accredited by the Royal College of Surgeons and AAOS, allowing the use of Fundamental Surgery to count towards a surgeon’s ongoing professional development. These accreditations validate our technology from an industry standpoint and show Fundamental Surgery’s training benefits.

Can you explain what the new @HomeVR modality is, how it helps residents and surgeons, as well as the difference between it and the HapticVR modality?

@HomeVR is an extension of our HapticVR platform. The HapticVR allows users to access our accredited educational simulations on standalone VR headsets such as Oculus Quest and HTC Vive Focus.

The difference between @HomeVR and our HapticVR platforms is the level of haptics used. With the HapticVR modality, users can gain muscle memory and really experience the feelings they would during surgery.

With this modality, people use haptic arms, which provide them with the force feedback and position, also known as Kinesthetics, they would encounter during a procedure.

The @HomeVR modality complements HapticVR well by bringing our VR simulations to standalone VR headsets so they can continue their practice anywhere and hone or master any skills needed.

Together, the modalities fuse Cutaneous (tactile vibration) and Kinesthetics (force feedback & position) haptic technologies in a single system to provide a more powerful, flexible, and cost-effective education platform.

Fundamental Surgery also expanded with a multiuser function. What is that and how does it work?

Our multiuser feature allows an unlimited amount of users to step inside a virtual OR and participate in lessons alongside their supervisors and team members. The majority of experience and knowledge among surgeons and students is gained via face to face encounters, which isn’t always possible.

The multi-user capability of Fundamental Surgery allows for the same hands-on, collaborative experience people would have during an in-person training session. Additionally, it lets supervisors monitor work, provide feedback, and answer questions in real-time anywhere in the world.

In addition to being used for lectures or one on one learning, it’s also great for team-based learning, as surgical teams can practice together and build team chemistry.

What type of data are you able to collect while residents and surgeons are using the platform?

We are able to measure and record every user interaction, such as surgical gaze, respect for tissue, and efficiency of movement, which are widely connected with surgical proficiency.

All measurements and recordings are provided in real-time, all within a single display that can be accessed anywhere by any device. The data collected is also compliant with CME (AAOS) and CPD (RCS) specifications allowing the use of either modality to count towards a surgeon’s ongoing professional development.

What equipment is needed to use the Fundamental Surgery platform?

We made our platform hardware agnostic to ensure that it is accessible and affordable. It also allows the user to pick the equipment they are more comfortable with or already use.

To use the HapticVR system, there are three elements needed; a laptop or desktop, two haptic arms, and a VR headset such as the Oculus Rift or the Dell Visor.

For @HomeVR, all that’s needed is an untethered VR headset like Oculus Quest or an HTC Vive Focus Plus.

Who benefits from VR training tools? Educators? Residents? Students?

We find that immersive training and education technologies, like Fundamental Surgery, benefit many groups in the medical community.

In reality, medical professionals at any level can benefit from VR training tools.

For educators, immersive VR training tools not only allow instructors to provide their students with more training options, but the level of data they can access from tools like Fundamental Surgery provides them with unparalleled insights into their students’ capabilities.

For residents, simulations allow them to hone skills and maintain proficiency at their convenience. Finally, for students, surgical VR training tools allow them to practice skills that they observe during lessons, perfect a move they learned during cadaver training as well as gain muscle memory by repeating a simulation.

Medical Device and Pharma companies are finding great value in the platform and often for a much more advanced user. Their use cases include for remote proctoring and education as well as bridging the physical divide by allowing them to conduct demos and meetings via our virtual multiuser capability.

Who currently uses Fundamental Surgery?

We are proud to say that Fundamental Surgery is being used worldwide. To name a few places, the Mayo Clinic and UCLA in the U.S., Sana in Germany, and the UCLH in the U.K. are a few medical institutions using our platform.

NYU Langone is also trialing @HomeVR with its residents as they work to navigate self-isolation restrictions.

Furthermore, a number of leading medical device companies and Pharma companies have adopted the platform to aid education.

Please comment on how COVID-19 has impacted medical training and how Fundamental Surgery can help?

The pandemic has caused medical institutions, hospitals, and universities to quickly adjust how they train and teach students and residents.

In-person training is severely limited, with universities moving to virtual teaching, elective surgeries are rescheduled, and doctors are turning to telemedicine visits. These changes have taken place quickly in this pandemic and have required organizations to find new ways for their students and residents to get the vital hands-on experience they need to practice and learn skills.

Fundamental Surgery is a beneficial tool for the medical community. With our platform, residents and trainees can practice their skills in a safer environment, and their supervisors can monitor their capabilities and growth remotely through their dashboard.

What are examples of ways Fundamental Surgery is currently working with institutions during COVID to continue their surgical training efforts?

Currently, we are working with NYU Langone and St George’s Hospital London to give their residents and students access to @HomeVR so they can continue their training remotely.

We are also speaking with new universities and programs regularly on how Fundamental Surgery can help them and look forward to helping as many students and residents during this trying time.

What feedback have you received from trainees and educators who are using Fundamental Surgery to train now?

Very positive! Both from trainees and their supervisors as well as experienced surgeons learning new techniques. Trainees primarily enjoy the flexibility of being able to practice on their own time or repeating a simulation as many times as they want.

From educators, we are hearing that the data they receive from Fundamental Surgery is helping them better understand the abilities of their trainees, where they can use improvement and how they are progressing.

Additionally, we’ve received helpful insights into new features users would like to see us add to Fundamental Surgery. We are always working to expand and enhance Fundamental Surgery so we always enjoy hearing directly from our users on how we can continue to grow the platform.

Moving forward, what do you think curriculums and resident programs will look like for the remainder of the year and beyond the pandemic? Will programs rely more on immersive training tools?

I think we will see several changes implemented now that will last beyond the pandemic. In a webinar series we facilitated with faculty and surgeons from around the world, we had this discussion and a few great points were brought up.

First, the use of immersive training tools will allow programs to move towards competency-based curriculums instead of chronological. The change will mean that residents will be able to move forward in their studies once they prove they have competent skills in what they are studying instead of completing their studies based on time studying.

For example, if a student was scheduled to learn a certain skill set in five months but learns to perform that skill proficiently in three months, they will be allowed to move forward in their studies instead of having to wait for the end of the classes. We are already seeing this transition take place in Australia and the UK.

Additionally, this move to remote learning and incorporating technologies into curriculums has started discussions around organizations and professionals pooling resources to allow trainees to learn from leaders and experts worldwide no matter their location.

In theory, if a program is using immersive tools to teach trainees, they can easily have experts in their field host virtual lessons and guide simulation training — even if they live in a different country.

Why do you think immersive technology is being accepted now in the medical field and why do you think it has staying power?

Right now, the medical field is looking for answers to the problems the pandemic has caused. One of the most effective solutions they’ve turned to during this time is immersive technology.

Before the pandemic, organizations were starting to adopt immersive training tools, but the current need for resources that allow students to continue their education remotely has amplified the need and acceptance of solutions like Fundamental Surgery.

I think immersive technologies definitely have staying power beyond the pandemic. Although the pandemic has sped up the adoption rate for these technologies, organizations and trainees alike are seeing their lasting benefits as they use simulation tools.

What are hurdles that need to be overcome for immersive training tools to be widely adopted?

I believe it’s simple — decision-makers need to be put in front of the technology and experience it for themselves. The decision-makers, also need to see their students and residents use this technology. Once they watch the process, it’s an uncomplicated course to sell them on the benefits and usefulness of immersive training tools — because they have witnessed it for themselves.

Though, because of the pandemic, we are seeing immersive training tools being accepted on wider bases as medical institutions need new ways of delivering ongoing education and bringing remote individuals together quickly. Immersive technology is perfect to accomplish this needed training.

Now that they’ve experienced it, we think it’s going to lead to a fundamental change in how medical institutions teach surgery going forward. It will be similar to the way the aviation industry has embraced using simulations.

Ultimately, the more organizations utilize immersive training tools the more we will see better-prepared surgeons, a better understanding of a surgeon’s capabilities and better patient outcomes.

What are the next evolutions of AR/VR in healthcare in your opinion?

I believe the use of haptics will be more widely used in healthcare training as the industry more widely understands the benefits of incorporating the sense of touch into immersive solutions.

Paradoxically, this could cause an issue for the industry if every procedure or medical tool requires a hospital to sign up for a different VR solution.

How will the healthcare industry find the information they need about the AR/VR?

We believe a channel delivery system for medical education will begin to immerge that will provide a single interface and access point for hospitals and medical students — a veritable “Netflix” of medical education if you like!

What about robots?

We also believe in the near feature we will see increased use of robotic, remote surgery using immersive and haptic feedback interfaces.

Isn’t everyone or every “body” different?

One of the things we are interested in looking at further with our partners is the development of patient-specific modeling through AR/VR.

Using the patient-specific model will allow a virtual model of an individual to be created, and surgeons will be able to practice virtually on that person and carry out the procedure multiple times before they attempt to do so for real in the operating theater.

What about the GPU and why is it important?

Developments in the area of improving the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) are ongoing. GPU handles the graphics operations and uses 1/10 the processing power of traditional CPU. The capabilities of GPUs will be utilized to visualize real-time procedures even on smaller devices. These are expected and will also enhance experiences.

Image Credit: Павел Сорокин; Pexels

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